Posted On 3/26/2017
The UAE-Armenia Investment Forum discusses boosting Emirati investments in the Armenian markets
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the attendance of Honorable Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia, the Abu Dhabi Chamber has organized the UAE-Armenia Investment Forum at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.
His Excellency Eng. Sultan Bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy; and His Excellency Mohammed Thani Murshid Al-Rumaithi, Chairman of the Federation of the UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber; attended the forum along with a number of senior officials and directors of more than 380 companies from the UAE and Armenia.
Honorable Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia, announced during the opening session of the forum that UAE citizens are exempted from obtaining a visa to enter Armenia and that the new orders will come into force starting from Wednesday, 22 March 2017. Sargsyan called on Emirati businessmen and investors to boost their investments in Armenia, especially in the agricultural sector, food industries, jewelries, tourism, specialized free zones. He added that operation within these zones enjoys an almost total waiver of taxes and duties.
The Armenian president said that cooperation between his country and the UAE witnessed huge development over the past few years thanks to the support of the leaderships of both sides.
He pointed to the importance of holding the UAE-Armenia Investment Forum under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who is aware to expand the UAE-Armenian economic relations and to open new doors for companies and investors in both countries. He expressed his thanks and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed for patronizing this important economic event.
Armenia’s free economic zones may serve as an effective platform for cooperation in these sectors: Alliance, geared towards high-tech and innovative production, as well as Meridian for jewelry, precious stones and watchmaking; operation within these zones enjoys an almost total waiver of taxes and duties. Another one is in the pipeline, a free economic zone with a broader scope, to become an effective platform for entry to the markets of the EAEU, EU and the Middle East countries. “Armenia offers to the U.A.E. businessmen a continually increasing market, since Eurasian integration has expanded Armenia’s economic boundaries to nearly 1/7th of the world’s dry land,” the president said.
Sargsyan stated that “Armenia today has turned into a country offering sophisticated turnkey technological solutions and services, taking up its specific niche in mainstream global ICT map. You have an opportunity to affirm through your own experience that Armenia has created conducive framework for doing business, a free investment environment protected by law. This is attested to by the World Bank 2017 Doing Business Report, where Armenia ranks 38th among 190 countries, moreover, it ranks 9th by ease of starting a business. As for economic freedom indicator, this year marked unprecedented progress: our country currently is 33rd, improving its standing over last year by 21 notches.”
He also spoke of the special and outstanding opportunities the tourism sector offer, noting that the number of tourists visiting Armenia from the United Arab Emirates is growing progressively that it increased by 44% just in 2016.
For his part, His Excellency Eng. Sultan Bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, expressed his thanks and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for patronizing this event which has the honor to witness the attendance and participation of Honorable Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia.
He emphasized that the relations between the two sides witnessed important developments including the visit of the Armenian President to the UAE in November 2016 and his meeting with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Al-Mansouri added that the UAE-Armenia Investment Forum provides a perfect podium for both sides to boost their economic and investment relations. He noted that the volume of non-oil trade exchange between the UAE and Armenia reached $102 million in 2015 including trade via free zones; whereas it recorded $88.3 million during the first nine months of 2016, which indicates that the trade between the two sides is heading forward.
However, he pointed out that such figures do not reflect the level of political relations and the capabilities and available opportunities and do not meet the ambitions of the peoples of the UAE and Armenia. “Such a forum would strengthen economic and trade cooperation between the two countries and the bonds between the Emirati business community and its Armenian counterparts,” he said.
Despite humble growth rates for many economies across the globe, but the UAE economy registered growth rate in its GDP to 3.8% in 2015. “Our predictions for 2017 points to a continuous growth between 3.5% and 4%,” he said, pointing out that in regard to FDI the UAE came in the first place regionally and 16th place internationally amongst the most promising countries to attract FDI between 2016-2018 according the International Investment Report 2016.
His Excellency Mohammed Thani Murshid Al-Rumaithi, Chairman of the Federation of the UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber, expressed his thanks and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for patronizing this event, which reflects His Highness awareness to support the private sector of Abu Dhabi and the UAE and to provide it with the best investment climate.
In a press statement on the occasion of organizing the UAE-Armenia Investment Forum, Al-Rumaithi said that the forum will offer Emirati investors and businessmen an opportunity to take a closer look at the available investment opportunities in Armenia. He added that they will have a chance to meet directors of the biggest 100 companies in Armenia which operate in a number of key sectors. He pointed out that companies in the UAE showed increased interest over the past two years to enter Armenian markets and to benefit from the distinguished and unique investment opportunities there.
The agenda of the forum includes presentations on agriculture and animal husbandry, energy, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, IT & Engineering, tourism and real estate, success stories of foreign companies operating in Armenia, as well as a number of investment projects. Forum participants also have the opportunity to learn about Expo 2020 Dubai and the activities of the Armenian-Emirati Businessmen Association.
In relation to opportunities for doing business in Armenia, the emphasis is made on the country’s ability to offer Middle Eastern investors access to the markets of Eurasian Economic Union and European Union through Armenia, “The Government of Armenia has adopted an accelerated program of reforms aimed at creating a highly favorable climate for foreign direct investment. Further efforts to build a highly transparent, efficient and stable business environment, legal and regulatory frameworks, and a streamlined investment facilitation regime stand high on the agenda of the Government. The UAE and other Arab countries will find highly skilled and inexpensive human capital, a liberal and open economy, and access to major regional markets through Armenia," as noted in the presentation by the CEO of the Development Foundation of Armenia, Garen Mikirditsian.
Within the framework of the forum, potential investors, project owners and business executives from both Armenia and the UAE held B2B meetings aimed at developing further economic cooperation between Armenia and Arab countries.
The Deputy Minister of Agriculture Armen Harutyunyan presented investment opportunities in the sectors of agriculture and animal husbandry. Potential investors were presnted with existing means of mushroom and strawberry production, vegetable greenhouses and planned bio clusters, and in particular, greenhouse farms, intensive orchards and organic agriculture. Mr. Harutyunyan noted, "As a producer and exporter of high-quality agricultural products, Armenia can become a reliable long-term partner for the Arab countries, and serve as a diversified source of food products. Favorable climatic conditions, the potential for development of organic goods, and great value make Armenia's agriculture very attractive to foreign investors."
The Deputy Minister of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources Hayk Harutyunyan gave a presentation on the energy policy, electricity production structure, sector regulations and the institutional environment of Armenia. The 50-megawatt Masrik 1 PV Solar Power Plant Project was presented as a key solar energy project with compelling economics. Experts believe that there is great potential for cooperation in the energy sector, given UAE’s stated interest in developing renewable energy sources, and Armenia’s significant potential in this field. "Armenia has created favorable conditions for renewable energy; the country has invested its entire toolset to boost the sector. The Government continues to seek new opportunities to increase energy security to ensure supply, energy efficiency, new investments, new technologies, regional cooperation and a sustainable infrastructure," noted the report on the energy sector.
The Deputy Minister of Health Sergey Khachatryan introduced the healthcare sector's investment opportunities and production capacities. Fountain Medical Development K&L Europe, an international clinical research operations company, presented its own success story, in which Kirit Velani, the company’s CEO noted, "The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most dynamically developing sectors, for which highly qualified specialists and an innovative approach to research are important prerequisites. More than half of the total output of the Armenian pharmaceutical industry is exported, growing by an average of twenty percent per year. The domestic market may be small, but Armenia offers easy access to the EEU, the EU and the Middle East."
The CEO of the Enterprise Incubator Foundation Bagrat Yengibaryan presented the investment opportunities in the telecommunications and high-tech industries, the sectors' educational infrastructure, affordable and highly skilled workforce, the presence of transnational corporations in the local market, the export potential, and the IT industry support projects declared a priority by the Government. Synopsys Armenia and PicsArt gave overviews of their success stories, Dasaran.am presented its perspectives on cooperation with UAE educational institutions, and Ucom LLC detailed its FTTH regional coverage expansion program. The presentation on Armenia’s IT & Engineering sector highlighted, "Thanks to its competitive workforce, Armenia continues to be a regional center for IT and high-tech industries. Over the past decade the sector has been one of the fastest growing dynamic sectors of Armenia's economy, with an annual growth of up to twenty percent."
The Chairman of the State Committee for Tourism Zarmine Zeytuntsyan gave a presentation on the development of Armenia's tourism and hospitality industry, its legislative reforms and investment opportunities. It was noted that the number of UAE tourists arriving in Armenia has increased threefold in 2016, compared to the previous two years. Tourists visiting Armenia enjoy the country’s favorable climatic conditions, clean air, green landscapes, a safe environment, modern evening entertainment venues, and centuries-old history. The participants of the forum wre presented with the investment projects of Noah Ethnographic Neighborhood, Art Hotel, and the Jermuk Therma Spa Resort project. "With its rich culture, world heritage historical monuments and legendary hospitality, Armenia introduces a new unique competitive tourism product to the world market. Investing in Armenia's tourism sector is not only profitable, but it also means investing in the preservation and promotion of world heritage," noted the presentation on tourism.
Investment projects in the real estate sector were also presented, in particular, the projects of the Al Hamra Shopping Mall, the Solar City Project, and development project of the 33rd District of Yerevan. The Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology presented the investment project relating to the construction of two major tunnels in the south of Armenia.